Work-Life Balance (WAS Re: Offered a job - need opinions)

Subject: Work-Life Balance (WAS Re: Offered a job - need opinions)
From: Lyn Worthen <Lyn -dot- Worthen -at- caselle -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 29 Apr 2003 11:17:53 -0600

As a working single mom with four kids (10, 12, 14, 16), I well know the
challenge of balancing work & family life, and have found that
creativity/flexibility is the key. I've had jobs that have demanded long
hours and weekends, I've had jobs where I could do almost everything from
home. I've worked out flexible schedules with employers, and taught both
myself and my children to try to plan/schedule events in advance whenever
possible (and when they spring something on me at the last minute, not to
count on it happening). I conduct the majority of parent-teacher
conferences by email (a real time-saver, with jr high/high school students).
I got a cell phone and taught the kids to check in (more of the programmed
numbers on my cell are for the kids' friend's houses thatn for clients). We
email each other regularly, especially with reminders about upcoming events,
"to-do list" items, grocery needs, etc. When I'm working from my home, I
have the same policy I have at the office: if my door is open, they're
welcome to walk in; if it's closed, they should knock first; if I'm on the
phone, they need to be quiet and write me a note or come back later, etc.

Have my kids complained about the time I have to spend working? Sure. So
have I. Who hasn't? But I've also been quite candid with them about
teaching them the nuts&bolts about the responsibilities of adult life and
what it means to be a parent. They know that I work a lot when I need to,
but that they're my priority. Right now, I have a contract project on top
of my regular job, but we held a family meeting before I accepted the
contract, and we discussed what I would need from them (more help around the
house, etc.) and what benefit the project would give us (we call this the
"down payment project"), and everyone agreed to the deal. Oddly, the
project has also shown the kids the value of doing their homework on time
(when I take Friday evening off to go to the movies, I have to work on
Sunday afternoon to meet my deadlines), planning, etc.

One other thought - working 50 hours a week really isn't that difficult.
Let your spouse drop the baby off at daycare in the morning. Show up at
7:30 am, have lunch at your desk, and leave at 5:30 pm. Get up out of your
chair occasionally to stretch out your muscles (send documents to the most
distant printer possible, hand-carry items to co-workers rather than
communicating purely by email, take the long route to the break room). If
you have material to read/review off the computer, take it to the
lounge/break room/reception area/outside, just to get away from the monitor
glare for a few minutes. Once in a while, reward yourself by going out to
lunch with a friend or co-workers. Pick up the baby on your way home.

I've pulled a 50-55 hour schedule for years - you'd be surprised how easy it
really is - even with a family - once you get past the "long week" sound of
going over 40 hours.


-----Original Message-----
From: Elisa Ma
Sent: Tuesday, April 29, 2003 10:00 AM

My $.02:

I made many sacrifices in order to spend time with my son when he was
I was very inventive about stretching the little income that I had at that
time, as a single mother. It was stressful to have low income, yet I managed

to provide him with piano lessons, summer camps, and many enrichment
as his natural talents and interests became apparent. As a result, my son is

now a strong, self-aware and self-confident 17-year-old who makes me feel
quite proud. It's fun to go somewhere and be introduced as "Patrick's Mom"
and hear people compliment my makes me feel that the sacrifices I
made were worthwhile.

On the other hand, you are in a different situation, since you are not
single-handedly raising a child. With some planning, 50 hours a week for
a few months at a time, or even longer, can be handled OK with your
spouse's cooperation


Conclusion: there are no hard and fast rules, and quality of time is
sometimes more important than quantity.


> -----Original Message-----
> From: Susan
> Sent: Friday, April 25, 2003 1:46 AM
> As one who worked from 55 to 85 hours a week for many of the reasons
> you are stating, the one litany I hear from my children is, "You were
> never there." You will never get that time back. You will never get
> a do over. A lot also depends on who you are and what kind of support
> you have at home. I was very fortunate in having a husband who picked
> up the kids, went to their school performances, fed them dinner, and
> gave them baths when I couldn't. It's funny, but there were many times
> when I worked at home or had extended periods with no job, but my kids
> all remember the times I wasn't home because I was working.
> Aloha, Susan on Maui

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